Fine silver overlaid dha made in Mindan village, south of Mandalay, gained fame in the 19th century.
Sheathed 98.8 cm
Sword 89.5 cm
Base 11.5 mm
Middle 6 mm
5 cm from tip 4 mm
Narrowest at base 27 mm
Widest near tip 33.5 mm
9.8 cm from hilt
Iron, steel, silver, copper alloy, wood, brass
New cotton baldric cord
Mindan Village, Burma
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A Burmese dha with a fine, silver overlaid blade. Such swords were produced exclusively in Mindan Village, Yamethin district, just south of Mandalay.
It has the typical blade for these, with a thick spine and long back bevel. The blade starts narrow and gently widens in the last section. It has a slightly hollow section on the flats that was crosshatched and in which the silver was applied, the surrounding steel then blackened for contrast.
What sets this one apart from all examples I've had before is the theme of the story.
The story of Maung Tin
At the base of the blade, on both sides, is the title:
"Blacksmith Maung Tin"
This story is explained by Bell:
Following the tradition which has given to volcanoes a name derived from Vulcan, the old armourer god, Maung Tin De, the legendary hero of the Popa myth, is represented as a blacksmith of prodigious strength. His date by the chronicles is the fourth century A.D. The son of a blacksmith, Maung Tin De could wield in his right hand a twenty-five viss hammer, and a twenty-viss hammer in his left: and under his blows the anvil roared like thunder, and all the people round were struck with panic.1
His great power was a source of fear to the King of Tagaung where he lived, who to secure himself married his beautiful sister Saw Me Va, and afterwards seized by treachery the smith, whose funeral pyre was shared by his sister: the pair of them thereafter became those most powerful Nats, the Mahagiri Maung Hnama Daw of Popa.2
A Monograph on Iron and Steel Work in Burma
Rangoon, Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1907
Maung Tin is also known as Min Mahagiri (မင်းမဟာဂီရိ) in Burmese folklore, meaning "Lord of the Great Mountain". His given name, Maung Tint De means something like "Mr Handsome". His sister's name was Shwe Myet-hna, meaning "Golden Face".
They were killed by being burned alive while tied to a champak tree, after which they became evil spirits that feasted on people coming near the tree. The king had the tree cut and cast in the river. Carried by the stream it reached the nearby Kingdom of Pagan where appeared in the king's dream, and offered protection of the city if it gave them a place to dwell. Thinligyaung had the trunk carried to Mount Popa, divided into two parts (one for each Nat) and carved with human features.
From that moment onwards Maung Tint De became known as the Lord of the Great Mountain. They were also enshrined on either side of the Tharabha city gate, Maung Tint De on the right and Shwe Myet-hna on the left.3
They are still worshipped by many as the most powerful nats under Thagyamin, the king of heaven.
1. Viss was a Burmese unit of weight, equal to about 1633 grams making the hammers 32.66 and 40.82 kilos respectively.
2. Nats are god-like spirits that are traditionally worshipped by the Burmese.
3. Wikipedia article Mahagiri.
Hilt and scabbard
The hilt and scabbard are above average quality for these, with both consisting mainly of copper alloy bands that were patinated to a blueish black, reminiscent of Japanese shakudō. Between each wide band are wrappings of silver and copper wire. All intact on hilt, some missing on scabbard.
The hilt is further decorated with figures on the grip section, some with swords. It has a dome-shaped pommel with another sword-bearing figure on it.
Comes with a new cotton baldric, made the traditional way.
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With inscriptions on blade, unusual grooves, and brass inlaid copper mounts.
Of a type likely produced by the Shan people and traded widely in the region.
With silver overlay on iron even continued on its hilt.
Fine Mindan dha with a scene from the Ramayana on its blade.